Monday, January 10, 2011

Seven-year-old writer

On the cheese counter line at Fairway in Red Hook, Brooklyn, a father and his seven year-old daughter waited their turn. Caroline, who was behind them, was taken by their warm relationship and the little girl's liveliness and good looks. They began to talk to each other. He was English, and by chance, lived as a child in the street adjoining mine in London. Caroline told him that she thought I would like to photograph his daughter.

And so it was that last Saturday we met for a sandwich at The Hope and Anchor and to take a photograph. The place was packed, but a slim, quiet and polite young man immediately took care of us and showed us into the back room. As soon as we were settled the girl took a notebook from her satchel and started work with a pencil. "I'm writing a book," she said. "Actually, at the moment, I am working on The Table of Contents." Then she read us the first paragraph of the book: "The dark crept into a light corner where Judy was sleeping. No-one could hear the loud moans of the dog. When a piece of the sun popped out of the air it bounced off clouds in a fast speed. It landed with a thump. It was a glowing ball as bright as a star but more. It started to grow into a flower. Everything was dark. The flower was sucked into the ground. Judy and her 2 brothers started to wake up."

She ordered pancakes and bacon and as she ate, she chatted and wrote. I looked around and saw behind me an empty table in good light which the management warmly welcomed me to have my subject sit at, whenever I was ready to take the picture. The light came from a glass door into the street and a mixture of coloured and regular tungsten lights from the room.

The girl suddenly said, "I thought we were here to have my photograph taken and all we have done is talk, talk." She had talked as much as any of us and had also been busy devouring the extra bacon that she ordered with her pancakes.

I was ready, and without any fuss she sat where I asked her to and she sat how I asked her to. The other customers looked and smiled as I am sure everybody does when they see this radiant, high-spirited girl.


  1. Her eyes are beautiful - perfectly almond shaped.

  2. Yes, quite the lovely child. Radiant yes, but I see a subtle sadness in those eyes. The shape of her mouth as well is similarly ambiguous; a kind of non-expression that makes one wonder just what went through her young mind at the moment. The Pre-Raphaelite's of course, would've idolized her.


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